|Image: Wikimedia Commons|
A batch of several hundred eggs, precisely arranged in uniform rows, moves along a conveyor belt, coming to a halt beneath a machine linked to a jumble of tubes.
Once in position, the machine robotically lowers itself and then simultaneously punctures each egg with a rack of hypodermic needles.
Through these needles, a mix of vaccines and antibiotics is injected into the egg — and so into the unborn chick inside, which three days later will hatch out.
If the scene sounds like something from a science-fiction film, then that is hardly a surprise. Today, large-scale poultry production has precious little to do with green fields and ruddy-cheeked farmers.
Every year, more than 40 billion chickens are slaughtered worldwide for meat, the vast majority of them intensively factory-farmed.
The bottom line is profit. All that matters is the volume in which these animals, bred to hit their genetically-modified slaughter weights within 35 days of hatching, can be churned out.
Given the intensity of the production systems (raised in sheds of 50,000 birds, each will be lucky to have the space of a piece of A4 paper in which to live), the dangers of disease are massively magnified.
And so it is to prevent this that the chickens are vaccinated before birth against common diseases.
They are often also dosed up with antibiotics — a preventative measure that is easier and cheaper than dealing with individual illnesses at a later date.
Sources: Real Farmacy